Autobiography. Is That What You’re Writing?

Lately, I have been meeting writers who are interested in writing their life story. Many of them ask about writing an autobiography which is great! But I often find myself sharing with them that they also can write a memoir. So what’s the difference?

The difference between an autobiography and memoir is that an autobiography is a person’s life story in chronological order. While a memoir is just one part of a person’s life. For example, a memoir may talk about a person’s childhood or teenage years. An autobiography, based on the writer’s age, covers all of that.

The Three Most Asked Questions I Get Concerning Memoir and Autobiography Writing

  1. When do I stop writing? You can either stop writing when you are done or you can decide before you stop writing when you want to be done. For example, if I am 30 and I want to write an autobiography, I would stop writing when my story gets to a time in my late 20s. If I was writing a memoir, I would choose a time period or a theme and pick an ending based on the moment in time that I am writing about. For example, if I am writing a memoir about my alcoholic mother ( she’s not really) I would write until either there was a change in her addiction. Or I would write until there was a change in the way I related to her or something of that nature.
  2. How should I come up with the title? Write the story first and come up with the title later. All too often writers catch “writer’s block” because they have come up with a title first. To avoid this give your book a title last. Chances are you may find a phrase or word that you use in your writing that will inspire your book’s title.
  3. How do I avoid getting sued by the people that I mention in the book? I am not a lawyer and therefore I am not offering legal advice, all I can tell you about this is what I think and what I’ve seen done. Some authors choose to change the names of the people that they mentioned in their story in order to protect their identity. They also disclose in the book that some of the names in the book have been changed in order to protect the individuals. You also could give those individuals a head up and let them know you are writing about them and have changed their name. Lastly, you may want to take some time to look into defamation laws in your state. You legally can not write false information about someone. However, the burden of proof is on the person who files suit. For example, if you write a book about how your mom had a drug problem and how it affected your life, just because she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have a case against you. She would have to prove that what you are saying is false and that your false accusations have caused her harm.

Friend, I hope that helps! If you have further questions, please leave them in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as possible!

If you are interested in publishing your autobiography or memoir contact me today and let’s talk about it.

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